Thursday, 6 September 2018


By Yaaseen Pinetown

There is a vision board behind my bedroom door. There has been one there since late 2015, when I realized where I wanted my life to lead: fashion. More specifically, fashion editorial.

A few years ago, I was not in the same place I am now. I was a moody little queen, unable to progress in society because I was unskilled. Within the duration of two years, I have come to realize that I am in a much better place.
If you think this bursary entails working exclusively with Gert-Johan Coetzee, you’re wrong. Yes, you’re going to spend your time working for him at his studio, developing your knowledge of design, but this bursary is for your future.  Let me take you back, to my past experience:

Once upon a time in 2016, I applied for the Gert Johan Coetzee fashion bursary, made it to the finals, and lost, and gratefully conceded to one of my dearest friends, Andréa Willow Beyers 

 Look at my sweet peach, Andréa <3

This was also the same evening that I realized there was more than one possibility of a future in fashion for me. Turns out, since the beginning I didn’t know much about anything at all, as in ever.

There are two options for this bursary that Gert-Johan Coetzee provides: Fashion Design for those who feel they have a great skill in the conceptualization and construction of garments, and Fashion Communication, for people like me.  See, Fashion Design was never my wheelhouse—yes, I have some drawing skill, and could probably stich a bag by hand, but when it came to other factors in the realm of design such as patterns and sleeves—my goodness, I failed miserably.  And I still continue to fail, with some pride, in garment construction. My strengths were always language, and writing, and scrutinizing every word I see before me.
In 2017, I resubmitted to the competition—for fashion design, again, only because I had no idea what fashion communication was. I made it through to the semi-finals once more, however, this time I was convinced by my friend and employee of the North West School of Design, Charles Oosthuizen to resubmit my entry for fashion communication—so I did.
If I have learnt anything from everyone who has ever told me something, it is: do not take risks that you know will not pay off, and always take wise advice. Needless to say, I made it to the finals and won the fashion communication bursary—something I knew I could be exceptional in.

If you think you’re going to work primarily with Gert-Johan Coetzee, you’re wrong. Yes, you will spend enough time working at his studio, working yourself to the point of depletion, but the knowledge one develops in such a work environment is vital.

It’s worth it. I promise you will only get a glimpse of him now and then, as he is busy all the time—as he should be. No one gets to the top by doing absolutely nothing.

 Snapping Aesthetic™ pictures on the job.

However, most of the time—and by most of the time, I mean all the time— you will be at school, working toward success.
Since 2016—and yes, I include 2016 as a credit to my growth as a person—I have not only become more self-aware, but I have developed rudimentary skills that will benefit me in the long run. The people at the North West School of Design always encourage the notion of family; that we support and help each other. With this ideology, I have come to learn that not everyone can be pleased, and not everyone will understand your trials, but they will, at least, try. 

Then again, fashion is not for everyone. Not for the weak, nor the lazy; It is exclusively for the machines— those that don’t need sleep, and can prosper through what may, in the moment, seem like a daunting task. That’s just school and the world of fashion merged into one tumultuous universe. It’s wild, but I love it—every second of this journey, even with all the work, and sleepless nights. It is truly a dream come true. I know it will benefit me in the best way.


Do you think you have what it takes? Here are the links
Gert Coetzee Fashion Bursary
Gert Johan Coetzee Fashion Communication Bursary

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